The following is an open letter to the esteemed Belgian Defence Forces on behalf of a now-perturbed international community.
To whom it should greatly concern,
The United States and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration celebrated the 50th anniversary of man’s historic first steps on the Moon this week, a feat Neil Armstrong, reflecting the childlike elation of the rest of the world, famously hailed as “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Not to be outdone by the achievements of longstanding allies across the pond, your cadets of the Belgian Defence Forces also spent the week commemorating noteworthy first steps — which appeared to be their first ... ever.
For that is the terrifying display the rest of the world bore witness to this week during the broadcast of a wonderful Belgian parade, one in which your group of cadets managed to stumble their way through while paying homage to neonatal giraffes, zombies, cross-country skiers, and individuals desperately awaiting a sigmoid colon release in the nearest lavatory.
The awe of every orbital structure assailed by the marching — a magnanimous description given the visually offensive convulsions — was mesmerizing, inducing hypnosis comparable only to the stone-turning gaze of the serpent-haired head of Medusa.
One must assume the only reason for including this group of cadets was due to the nation of Belgium literally running out of human beings to fill the void in this section of the parade.
How do your cadets walk to the store? Right arms and right legs swinging in unison like some disoriented pendulum. People traveled from all over Europe to see what they just did.
And the leader? He somehow managed to fall out of step ... with himself. One small step for man.
Men and women throughout history have been charged with treason for significantly less.
Furthermore, how many smiling, flag-waving children could have been hurt had someone, heaven forbid, issued a “Column, left" command? Pandemonium.
If any training, at all, occurred leading up to this abomination, everyone involved is to be condemned for a job never done.
At the behest of the international community, please restrict your cadets to a period of confined solitude, their only company an instructional walking video by Cincinnati-based band, Walk the Moon, who will implore them ad nauseam to put “one foot in front of the other.”
While it is a dark day, indeed, for mankind to seek advice from a region in which incessant celebratory spelling of the state’s four-letter name (“O-H-I-O”) is sacrosanct, here we are, and as J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote, "all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Nearly seven years before the Moon landing, in September 1962, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech to students at Rice University, stating, “No nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space. ... We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
It might not be a trip to outer space, but you have proven that drill can be just as hard.
Drill harder, Belgium.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.